lean for small scale manufacturingWhen most people think of Lean Manufacturing, they think of large, gleaming, gazillion square foot manufacturing spaces where every surface is clean, meticulously labelled and taped off.  Happy workers reach for their conveniently placed tools on their shadow boards and work on mistake-proof assembly stations. They think of Toyota, or Boeing, or any manner of billion dollar businesses that have invested a lot into leaning out their operations. That can be quite intimidating for small companies on tight budgets with little headroom to get their Lean for small volume manufacturing journey started.

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Health HackathonHackathons are a fantastic environment for networking between academia and industry, and a real opportunity for students and young professionals to showcase their skills. On the last weekend of September 2018, the Victoria Health Hackathon was hosted by the University of Victoria’s Centre for Biomedical Research in downtown Victoria. The event brought together esteemed professionals from industry and academia alike, as well as eager students looking to test their skills in teamwork, problem solving, and presenting.

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PFMEA
It behooves designers to look at the assembly processes early, with a focus on how we can stop critical faults or those that are likely to happen. Process Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (PFMEA) is a tool to assess potential process failure points during assembly and how the failures could be felt or observed by a customer. A ‘customer’ is not just an end-user, but any further user in the production line, or anyone in between.

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first to market strategyIn a previous medical device company, I worked on a project where First-to-Market (FTM) was a deemed a priority for the company’s survival.  To meet that highly compressed timeline, we decided to skip the phase-gate process and replace it with a FTM production release strategy.

FTM product commercialization carries a much higher overall project risk compared to a phase-gate approach.  In our case our FTM commercialization process was a success, we were able to meet the release schedule and the product dominated the market while others played catch-up. Unfortunately the brand suffered from quality cost and reliability issues during this initial launch.

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reliability testingOn a quiet Monday morning, before the first cup of coffee has been poured, a faint sound can be heard coming from inside the organized chaos of an engineering lab. Tucked away in a corner, somewhere between an ever seemingly broken 3D printing machine and a box of orphaned circuit boards, a laptop screen glows blue in the dim light.
Beside the laptop, a tangled series of cables and air hoses connect the laptop to a small pneumatic cylinder. At the end of the cylinder, a crude, finger-like object shoots forward and back, monotonously depressing a button almost in time with the clock on the wall that reads 6 minutes slow. Taped above the bench hangs a hand-scribbled label with the words “Reliability Testing”

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What Yeast, Richard Nixon, a CIA agent, a Teenager, Donald Trump and $9 billion dollars have to do with a Fake Medical Device

Bad BloodBad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup was at the top of my 2018 summer fun reading list.  It was released in May 2018 and written by John Carreyrou (the two time Pulitzer winning journalist at the Wall Street Journal that questioned the validity of the diagnostic device work done by Theranos).

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